May 28, 2012
"Bob the Barber" is Back in Business, Thanks to UVic's CanAssist
Update - November 2012
The University of Victoria is deeply saddened to learn of the passing on Nov. 7, 2012 of Robert Egely, known to many as Bob the Barber. “I will never forget the second lease on life that you gave to my dad,” Egely’s daughter, Nicole Semkiw, wrote to UVic’s CanAssist organization. “I know my dad was so happy and thankful to have gotten back to being a barber again.”
“Working with this good-humoured and tenacious gentleman was a delight and an honour for our team,” says Tanya Switucka, CanAssist’s client relations manager. “Because of Bob’s amazing story and accompanying technology, we have received several queries from individuals with similar needs.”
For more than 40 years, Robert Egely was a fixture in the Okanagan town of Enderby, cutting residents’ hair in his barber shop. But in 2010, following medical complications that resulted in the amputation of both legs, Bob reluctantly hung up his clippers. Later this week, Egely will start up his business again thanks to a high-tech, customized barber chair developed by the University of Victoria’s CanAssist team. The one-of-a-kind chair includes a motorized seat that enables Egely to sit alongside customers, circle them as he cuts their hair, raise himself almost four feet off the ground to achieve various cutting angles, and transfer to his wheelchair when he’s done.
Several members of CanAssist’s engineering team will travel to Enderby to install the chair in Bob’s new shop and watch as the barber serves his first customer—a gentleman in his 90s, who has been waiting for the moment when “Bob the Barber,” as he’s known around town, returns to work. “Being able to get back to being a barber gives me a sense of having a purpose again,” says Egely, who is 67 and has no intention of slowing down.
Funding for Bob’s new chair was provided to CanAssist through the Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative, a program supported by the federal and BC governments, which helps people with disabilities achieve their employment-related goals.
UVic’s CanAssist program is dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with disabilities. For more information on CanAssist, visit www.canassist.ca.
“Bob the Barber” Egely cuts the hair of his first customer—91-year-old Enderby, BC resident John Harrison—using the new chair developed by UVic’s CanAssist team. Photo Credit: Brandon Fry
Brandon Fry, lead engineer on the CanAssist design team, makes last-minute adjustments to “Bob the Barber’s” custom-designed chair. Photo Credit: Tanya Switucka
Engineering team from left: Paul Green, Brandon Fry, Mike Lewis, Bob, and Darcy Lane
Photo Credit: Tanya Switucka
Members of the team make last minute adjustments to the chair before it was taken to Enderby. Photo Credit: Ivan Petrovic
Anne Tolson (CanAssist Communications) at 250-721-8730 or email@example.com
Tanya Switucka (CanAssist client relations) at 250-217-3550 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Darcy Lane (CanAssist manager of hardware engineering) at 250-472-5908 or email@example.com
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at 250-721-7641 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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